Only two more sleeps until Elle turns four! Oh my goodness, I can’t bare it. I was snuggling her the other night and feeling a bit sad that she was going to be another year older. “I dont want you to turn four” I said to her. Elle empathetically, replied ”You can’t stop four Mummy, you can’t stop four.”..and you know…my wise little one is right…I cant stop four so we might as well celebrate it and have some fun!
This year (eek, fingers crossed) we are having a Black Cat Party. For those of you that know us well, know that Elle’s last two birthday parties have been cancelled. First the Butterfly Party was cancelled due to our whole family being ill, and then the Woodland Mushroom Party was cancelled because of the freak October blizzard. I now feel like I have tempted fate as believe it or not there is the super storm Hurricane Sandy on the way, scedualled to reach us on the 29th, which is Elle’s birthday! Oh my goodness! What are the chances of three parties in a row being cancelled? I have planned Elle’s party for the 4th of November, but given the extent of damage we had after last years snow storm – some people were without power for over a week, we might not have electricity next weekend? Non the less, I am in full swing preparation – better to have tried and not succeeded than not tried at all!
Elle’s party this year is based on a wonderful drawing she did of a black cat. I was very inspired by the drawing and co-incidentally when Elle was a baby, her very favorite book was Jenny’s Birthday Book , a book by Esther Avreill- which is a famous children’s story about a Jenny Linsky a little black cat that lives in NYC and has a birthday party in Washington Square. Elle would have us read this book to her up 5 times a day – and she knows it off by heart. I thought it would be fun to make this the theme of her party – totally age appropriate and this year, seasonally relevent given her birthday falls so close to Halloween. I am in the process of creating Jenny’s Birthday shadow puppets to tell the story story using the shadow puppet theatre that we made.
I had Elle write her party details as she is very good at copying words now, and after she wrote Saturday and November, she wrote the 3 backwards…but I could not ask her to do it all over again after doing so well with the big words…and the backwards 3 is very cute right? I scanned and reduced the size of her work and cut and pasted it into little black houses that I made out of construction paper. Elle enjoyed handing out her invitations and now fingers crossed we will have a party!
This time last week we were celebrating Spring with an Easter party. I invited the families in our street with small children and some of our friends. We could not have asked for a nicer day, the sun shone brightly, and our Easter party was lovely in so many ways. I decorated the dogwood tree in our back yard with ribbons and flowers, we made fresh flower crown wreaths, and many brought dyed eggs, filling the giant basket for the egg hunt. We played pin the tail on the bunny, and had an egg and spoon relay race with both parents and children. We played duck duck goose, and enjoyed a small feast of great home made food. The children had a blast, and all looked so adorable.
It was exciting for our family to host a Spring celebration, it made me feel content and settled. Growing up my family would gather to celebrate Easter and I have fond memories of Easter being a lot of fun. Grandma would dye eggs for an egg hunt, and make chocolate bunnies for each of her children. The fireplace seat in the family room would have a long line of Easter baskets that would magically be filled on Easter morning with goodies. We would wear our best clothes, have a large elaborate meal and play games.
With our family now on the other side of the world, more often than not during holiday times we are unable to be with them. Non the less I hoped to make Easter into a special occasion for our children, and a party with friends was a great way to make it memorable. I wanted it to be symbolic of Spring, to be colourful and lively, and I wanted to share it with people we care about.
It will be great to look back at these photos in years to come. We feel lucky to be living in a street with so many little ones, always right there ready and able to play! I am grateful especially to our neighbour Nina who was a tremendous help setting up…and to my husband who made this party possible…and to my daughters who are a continual source of inspiration. I just loved it when Maya filled her wheat grass basket with flowers and hung it on the tree…Elle then had to do it too. Our creative girls…always making beautiful things.
Our day wound down, bit by bit neighbours left, and then friends, until it was just us, sitting in the yard. The girls building fairy houses out of shells, pebbles and the left over flowers…and I, sitting still…in that special quiet space after a party where I get the reward of a resonating heartfelt feeling…from a wonderful celebration.
This weekend our street had an ice-cream social – A great way to commemorate the end of Summer, and a wonderful way to bond neighbours by more than a common address. Nina mentioned this idea to me the week we moved in, which was not so long ago and so I can distinctly recall her saying “I will have to organise an Ice-cream social so you can meet everyone.” and then before I knew it, Nina had printed out fliers and walked up and down the street delivering invitations. So upon the 1 month date of moving into our little house, we met approximated 60 of our neighbours. We feel like we are in a pretty good spot! All of a sudden our house has become more than a house, it has become a home in a great street.
Nina did a wonderful job at co-ordinating everything and and I have to say, I really felt like a pea in a pod with her. The two of us enthusiastically jumped into the event – and it turned out to be so much fun! Nina had tables and chairs and tableclothes, and drink coolers and all sorts of things I have yet to acquire, but I was able to add my special touch, and my thoughtful ideas…
The moment Nina placed the invitation in my hand I decided would make cardboard ice-cream cones for all the children to paint. I saved all of our moving boxes when I unpacked as cardboard is so handy for creative projects, and so it only made sense to use what I have a lot of. Bit by bit the tally grew and so I ended up cutting out 15 cardboard cones, tops and cherries, and I could have made another five as there were a few little ones who missed out! At one point in the afternoon, when Cam did a head count there were 23 children running around the street – mostly Girls! Funny enough, not one boy stopped to paint an ice cream. I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see the line of girls along our pavement, heads down, brushes in had, painting away. They all enjoyed decorating their ice-cream, and it was a nice focus for them to balance out the crazy wild running around time events like this can lead to for young ones.
Nina had Montclair City deliver sanctions and so we blocked off the street so we could set the tables up on the road. Our house is on the most level part of the street, and also has the most shade, thus the best spot for an ice cream eating gathering. I loved that I could string my flag banner between the two old oak trees in our yard, and the children could sit and paint on our path. I also loved that the children could run back and forth from each others houses care free. Needless to say, I had two exhausted Girls at sunset!
Our street is special in that it only runs two blocks long – one end is the train tracks, and the other end is the Reservation. The fact that it is a small street, gives it a cozy neighbourly feeling as everyone knows each other – this was evident as I listened to people talk. Many people came to the social, and many of them have lived there 20 years or more. There was much talk that this was how the street was 20 years ago when their children were small. All of a sudden the street has turned over and we are the next generation. The ‘empty nesters’ as they referred to themselves were all remarking it was so nice to see so many young children back in the block again.
There was lots of delicious home made desserts, beer, wine, juice, and of course a large assortment of ice cream and toppings. Maya was literally a kid in a candy shop, her eyes bigger than her stomach! To her, a table full of sweet treats to try is just too much temptation, she is such a foodie. When I suggested to her that she had had enough she made herself a plate of things to take home “For tomorrow ” she told me, that she had not tried yet.
Another neighbour brought along Japanese water yo-yo’s which are like super thick water balloons on rubber bands. They stretch up and down and bounce from the weight of the water, but they are so thick they do not burst. The children had a lot of fun bonking each other and everything with them!
It was such a fantastic afternoon, and a great bonding experience. I can’t thank Nina enough for bringing this all together. I have no idea how long we will live in this little street, but I have feeling that the day we leave is going to be a very sad day, with memories like this it feels like a special place to live.
Oh la la, it was fancy and it was rosie, and Maya had a fantastic party! We could not have asked for a better day, it was warm, but not hot, with clear blue skies. We set up the table in the canopy of the crab apple tree against a wall of profuse ivy. Between large old trunks we strung the rose flag banner, and in the opposite corner near the rambling rose bush we placed the rose covered tipi. A quilted blanket was spread out on the shaded lawn, with comfy cushions to sink into. I flitted like a butterfly putting everything in its place to make our vision for the Fancy Rose Party come true. Maya and Elle helped by scattering dried rose petals (collected from our garden over the last few weeks) under the enchanting wisteria entrance.
Parasols, wrist gloves and fans were in place to give to guests as they arrived – a pink organza bag with a paper heart (my handmade paper left over from our wedding) held the wrist gloves. Delightfully everyone wore them – for at least a little while. I loved seeing how the wrist gloves co ordinated with each of the Girls. While sewing them I held the Girls in mind…thinking of the colours that they liked and what suited them. I suggested they remove them for one of the activities which was to paint the paper fans. Using water colour paints the Girls decorated the fans – a lot of fun, a great creative activity, and the results just stunning!
The food table looked perfectly pretty with a small fine selection to nibble on – raspberries, blueberries, almond short-breads (aka Mexican wedding cakes), sandwiches and of course the Birthday cup cakes – this year rich chocolate cup cakes with my secret seven minute icing, hot pink sugar dust and topped with handmade mulberry paper flowers (the flowers I got from etsy). I had so much fun designing the cake. I even managed to find cup cake papers with roses on them – not a detailed left out. There was a large pitcher of pink strawberry lemonade with old fashioned pink and white paper straws. I wrapped roses around the tops of each straw to make it…well fancy of course! Maya and I created a beautiful floral centerpiece. Together we walked down the road to a fabulous flower stand that has a great range to choose from. It was so fun carrying home the paper wrapped long stem blooms – it really felt like a special occasion…and in so many ways it was. Maya held my hand and if I were to count, she must have said “I love you Mummy” at least five times there and back – we were savoring the moment together. We settled on a bunch of pink roses, a bunch of white hydrangeas and a bunch of white freesias. Once home I chopped all the long stems off and we arranged them in a short squat vase, together they looked stunning, and really worked well on our party table – they smelled divine too!
As we do at each party, we played party games, starting with pass-the-parcel. This is not a common game at American parties, and I was encouraged this year when our guest from last year explained to those who had not played the party game what to do. The package was wrapped in many shades of pink, green and silver tissue paper – each layer a different colour. Cam played the guitar, stopping at random intervals for a guest to unwrap a layer. Maya had a mini tantrum as she wanted desperately to unwrap a pink layer – I had given her a forwarning that the Birthday Girl does not win pass the parcel – it is for her guests, but as it turned out, while the last layer was being passed around, the guitar stopped on Maya! Thankfully Maya was gracious and said “Daddy, it can’t stop on me!” and so he continued to play until Ella won! We then had a butterfly scavenger hunt, with pink fabric butterflies hidden all over the yard – one for each Girl, and one special gift hidden for the lucky discoverer.
It was then time to sing happy birthday and to blow out the candles. I walked around with a basket of fresh rose petals that were sprinkled onto Maya as we chorused hip hip hooray! The rose petals cascaded in a merry finale. Maya had such a wonderful time – in the pink girlie finery of it all…and I think our guests enjoyed themselves too! When it came time for people to leave, Maya said “I want my party to go all night!” and I agreed…I did not want it to end. It was a lovely way to celebrate our precious Girl, our darling rosie Maya turning five. Thank you to all of our guest, for making it a party to remember.
This year I did not make Maya’s invitations – an almost guilty declaration – but you will see why! A few ideas crossed my mind about what I would make, and then time seemed to slip away with the other handmade items on the agenda (the wrist gloves, and another project I plan to complete tomorrow) – it seemed like a good idea to purchase some. I went straight to ETSY as it is a super source to find handmade items when you do not want to make them yourself. Very quickly I found some invitations that fit Maya’s chosen theme of ‘Fancy Rose’ at Paper Nosh – Etsy is so GREAT! Purchase package complete with envelopes, and sealing stickers – it made doing the invites very easy. They arrived beautifully wrapped and boxed – some sellers take such pride in their products, it is a pleasure. I left the un-opend invitations on the table and when Maya woke in the morning she saw the lovely pink garden toil package. I was awoken with a kiss from a very happy little Girl. Quickly they were, opened, inspected, and addressed. We loved the quality, beautiful heavy paper stock, printed on the front, interior and back with detailed images, and decorated with fine glitter. I was very proud of Maya as she happily went to work writing in them all – before breakfast!